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Jim Harbaugh, Patrick Willis talk about playing New Orleans Saints

Both met with the media on Wednesday

San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Just going up against a Saints team, I know you guys played them the past couple of years, it seems like they are much improved on both sides of the ball from the last time you played them.  What is your assessment of their team and the type of team you are going to be facing on Sunday?

"(They are a) Really good team that is gelling and playing really well as you said, on all sides of the ball.  We saw last year when we played the Saints they had the tough start and had reeled off some wins when we played them. But yes, you can definitely see offensively they are machine-like and really have things going and oiled up. They got it going for sure. And (the) same defensively, they are doing a very good job of getting stops, getting turnovers and creating negative plays.  All across the board the Saints have it going."

Playing against this defense this year is radically different from the one you faced last year. Can you highlight some of the main differences you see for us?

"I don't really like getting into comparing things from this year to last year. As I said, they are doing a really good job. They got it going."

As far as Aldon Smith, how much of it was it just trying to work him back in and do you anticipate him seeing more snaps this week?

"Those options are open. You try and let your opponent think those options would be open."

With the way you guys have thrown the ball, specifically in losses, what do you guys need to do offensively to prevent that from happening as far as Colin Kaepernick taking sacks?

"It starts with a great day of preparation today, I feel like (we are) paying our dues. Today, great practice, great meetings, and we are going to need it. We know and see the challenge and task we have in front of us this week."

Why has the Saints screen game been so effective?

"It's something that I was looking at last night and it is very effective. And it is not just one back, they can throw to either back, any back and they are very good at it."

What are some of the tougher venues and what makes those environments so difficult?

"I think it starts with crowd noise, noise, offenses having to communicate and opposing offense makes it harder to communicate offensively."

What are some of the tougher places to play in and do that?

"Again, you start comparing this one to that one and someone always seems to get diminished when you compare (stadium to stadium).  Even with something like that, you would be surprised. Ours isn't the loudest? You think theirs is louder?"

What about Seattle?

"I think you know. I think it is pretty obvious. It is a pretty loud environment. What is New Orleans like?  A pretty loud environment."

What did you like about Eric Reid when you drafted him and how happy have you been with his performance so far?

"There are so many things to like about Eric. He is a tough guy. He is a smart guy. He's a good guy, a good person. He is very athletic, good size, good speed, obtains information, makes a mistake and learns from it.  Most of all, he shows up, works hard and he listens, great quality to have as a football player.  I've been really pleased with his play, his progress and I like being around him every day."

How tough was it for you to part with a guy like Parys Haralson?

"That was hard and I'm happy for Parys and happy for the way he's been playing and the contributions he's been making. I can't wish him as much luck this week, but nothing but great respect for Parys Haralson as a player and a person. A .  A ."

Can you give us any insight on what Rob Ryan is doing well this year?

"Yeah, I think that as always, the job (that) you do speaks for itself and he has coached a lot of players (on the defense).  He has coached a lot of guys, put them in a lot of different positions and they understand what he is trying to get done as a coordinator of the defense.  That speaks volumes when you can teach that many people that well to play that many different spots and roles. I think that speaks volumes right there."

What do you think of the amoeba thing that he does with all the upright guys up front and it is hard to tell which one is going with direction?

"That's something that he's used in the past and teams need to prepare for it for sure.  Something I guess, I think you can credit him for that.  I can't remember who was the first to do that, but I think him in the New England days even you can trace it back to there.  It's had its place."

San Francisco 49ers Linebacker Patrick Willis
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, November 13, 2013

You guys lost a tough one the other day, but won five in a row before that. That was a pretty good stretch for you guys, wasn't it?

"Yes sir, it was pretty good. It was one of those things. It is really hard to win in this league so each time you can get a win you want to cherish it, but (you better) get ready and prepare for the next one. When you lose, you just have to find ways to prepare even better so that you don't lose two in a row."

You have played against Drew Brees a number of times now in your career, but did you watch any of the game on Sunday night (against the Dallas Cowboys)?

"Yeah, I got to watch some of that game a little bit and of course we have been studying them already this week preparing for them."

What do you think about the way they dominated the Cowboys? How tough is it to go against Drew Brees?

"It is no question. Drew Brees is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and he has shown it year in and year out. Last year he put up some good numbers but I know it wasn't the kind of year he wanted to have. With them getting their coaching staff back and getting the head coach back, they are clicking on offense right now. They are a very tough offense to defend. I really feel confident in our guys and our ability to go out there and play."

How big of a lift was it to get Aldon Smith back and how long will it take to get him back in the swing of things?

"It was big. Aldon is one of our defensive leaders, he is one of our defensive guys who will go out there and play hard every snap. To have him back is truly a blessing considering some of the things that he was going through. But to have him back on our team will help us out a lot."

With all of the things that Aldon was going through, how did you manage that as a team?

"It was just one of those things. There wasn't too much we could do as far as what had already been done. The biggest thing for us was that we are here for him, we are not here to judge him, we're just here to be his teammates and be teammates that he can talk to if he needs to."

You guys have been more successful in scoring defense compared to yards allowed. Is that something you are focused on against the Saints?

"It is one of those things that nowadays total offense can be misconstrued because it's a passing league now. You have teams that throw the ball 50 times a game now. It is what it is. It used to be you (would) get 350 yards of offense, that was a huge game. Now they are throwing for four or five hundred yards a game. People talk as if it's normal and nowadays it is. For us, the biggest thing is that we don't ever want to give up yardage but the biggest thing for us is not letting a team score. We don't want to give them anything but at the end of the day our biggest objective is to keep that scoreboard down."

How has Eric Reid been doing?

"He is doing well. He is doing really well. I don't know anything other than that but he is walking around and he is out there in our defensive walkthroughs, so (we're) just optimistic about him being there."

How has he performed, not just how is he doing this week, but how has he performed as a rookie for the 49ers?

"He has performed extremely well. It's one of those things that you can't say he is doing better than you thought because we drafted him in the first round. When you draft someone in the first round you count on them to come in and be able to play right away and help your defense and he certainly has done that for us. He's been a tremendous blessing on the defensive side of the ball."

Did he not seem like a rookie coming in? Even though he only played three years of college, a lot of people said he mentally seemed much more prepared.

"He has been really good. In that secondary you have guys like Carlos (Rogers) and Donte (Whitner), guys like that who have been in the defense for a few years now to be able to help him and help him understand his responsibilities. But he is just a smart kid overall, smart man overall, and like I said we are just very fortunate to have him on our team."

Parys Haralson was on your team and is playing pretty well for the Saints and Coach (Jim) Harbaugh was just telling us how tough of a decision it was to let him go. Have you talked to him at all?

"Yeah, we text. We text from time to time. We don't really talk a whole lot about football, just mainly like texting a friend to see how he is doing, check on the family and whatnot."

Can you talk about the environment playing at Seattle? What are some of the tougher venues to play in and what makes it so difficult?

"I'm sorry man, I really have to get to meetings."

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